Saturday, May 7, 2011

Retro Jam

Spent a bit of time yesterday afternoon jamming in traffic on Route 80 West, a highway that possesses the innate ability to turn a journey of less than thirty miles into an odyssey of more than ninety minutes seemingly irrespective of the time of day or the day of the week.  All was not lost though during my ass-sitting time.  Not even close.

Being stuck in traffic afforded me the time to spin for a bit of advice off of the wheel of Ferris.  Life may indeed move pretty fast but when your car is moving not at all, the opportunity presents itself to take a look around.  To open one's eyes and one's ears as well.

Restless, I turned on the radio to see what if anything was happening in the world beyond the left lane of travel between Exits 58 and 57.  Much to my delight, whatever station on the FM dial I settled on one of my favorite songs from my childhood (a/k/a "the 1980's").  While at gunpoint I could not name either (a) three songs this band ever recorded; or (b) a single member of the band other than Fee Waybill, I have always loved "She's A Beauty" by The Tubes.

It is a hair less than four minutes of pure pop puffery no doubt but I care not.  And the instant it came on the radio, I did what I have done in response to hearing it for the past quarter-century or so:  I started nodding my head up and down, tapping my hands on my steering wheel and singing along.  I have never been quick enough vocally to get through the, "'Cause if you do you'll find out she don't love you" lyric.  But I never stop trying.  Judging from the looks of the motorists who were sardined around me, it was clear that they wished that they too had stopped on whatever station I had (I think it was 95.5 but I know not for sure).  At least I told myself that was what the looks on their faces were trying to tell me.

Sadly, when "She's A Beauty" faded away into the ether, there was nothing that followed it that held my interest on the FM dial.  As if !  I flipped over to the AM side of life and ran into Mike Francesca on WFAN interviewing #53 from the New York Giants - Hall-of-Fame middle linebacker Harry Carson.  Apparently next month, from June 11 through June 14, the 1986 Giants team, which was the first Super-Bowl winning team in franchise history, is having a reunion.  Carson said that practically all of the players and the coaches are getting together - in some cases for the first time in a long time.  On Sunday the 12th of June there is going to be a breakfast for which fans can buy tickets and meet the several dozen members of the team who will be in attendance. 

There is no likelihood that I will be attending this function.  It matters not.  Listening to Carson talk about it on the radio and run through the list of his old teammates and coaches who will be there took me back to my youth (at least the latter stages of it).  I was a sophomore at CU Boulder when the Giants won Super Bowl XXI.  Considering that the team they squashed in Pasadena on that January afternoon (that is how you know it was a long time ago - the game actually was played in January) was the Denver Broncos, you can readily imagine how easy it was to find a Giants Super Bowl Party on campus. 

The G-Men trailed the Elwayians by a point at halftime, 10-9, and several of my neighbors in Farrand Hall who knew of my Jersey roots were giving me the business pretty hard.  In light of the fact that several of them happened to from the Boston area, they should have known better than to declare a New York team dead and buried a moment sooner than the commencement of the autopsy.  Game Six, Hello?  They did not.  By the time the game ended, the Giants had hung 39 points on the Donkeys and blown them out by close to three touchdowns

As a kid, I sat in Giants Stadium to witness some pretty miserable performances by the home team.  The nadir of my rooting existence was "the Fumble", which Kara and I watched unfold before us as we were beginning the trek down out of Section 327 to the Somerset Transit bus that was going to bring us home.  From that moment to the victory in Super Bowl XXI was a journey for the Giants of close to a decade.  It felt three times as long. To watch players who had been good players on really dreadful teams - players like Harry Carson and Phil Simms, guys who you had rooted for when common sense and logic dictated that you turn your attention elsewhere, suddenly emerge as the Kings of the pro football world was simply glorious. 

Carson spoke of a group that is twenty-five years further on up the road now.  The journey from there to here has not been easy for some of them.  Their number now includes a guy who is a Hall-of-Fame member and whose member got him placed on the sexual offenders' registry.  It includes another who makes the most irritating, intellectually offensive radio commercials for his business that I have ever heard.  Yet in my mind's eye I see them all as I saw them then:  players on my favorite team who delivered a championship that I wish my father had lived long enough to see. 

For just a moment anyway yesterday afternoon, I had a chance to not only slow down the world around me but to spin it around backwards a time or two.  Not a bad way to spend a traffic jam. 

-AK

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